The motive in the recent shooting at a Maryland shopping mall remains a mystery today. More details have emerged regarding Saturday’s incident at The Mall in Columbia, Maryland, but authorities are still unclear as to why the shooting took place. The male perpetrator arrived at The Mall via taxi and killed two victims, both employees at a skate shop called Zumiez, before turning his gun on himself. Five other individuals sustained minor injuries, mostly related to their attempts to flee from the shooter. All were released from local hospitals as of Sunday. Makeshift explosives were found in the perpetrator’s possession and it is unknown whether he attempted to detonate them but failed, or never had the opportunity to do so.
The victims were Brianna Benlolo and Tyler Johnson. According to information retrieved from Facebook, Benlolo was an assistant manager at Zumiez and Johnson had been employed there since November of 2013. Benlolo was also the mother of a 2-year old boy. Friends described her as a dedicated mother and that she had a good relationship with the boy’s father. They shared joint custody of the child. The job at Zumiez was the first for Benlolo since the birth of the child.
Members of Benlolo’s family lamented the killings as “senseless” and said Benlolo was only trying to provide for her son. They said whenever she was not working, she was doing things with her son. Representatives for Johnson’s family had not been reached as yet. But even as more details regarding the shooting at the Maryland mall emerge, the motive remains a mystery.
Authorities have only made a few comments in relation to the possible motive in this case. According to NBC News, federal law enforcement officials have suggested that the event might be a “domestic incident.” It is unknown if this means the perpetrator may have had a relationship with one or more of the victims, but local officials downplayed this potential connection. They stated that there is no information at this time to suggest that the shooting was a domestic incident.
The police chief of Howard County where the shooting took place, William McMahon, told reporters at a press conference today that he is confident the incident was an isolated episode. There were no other perpetrators or suspects. The perpetrator acted alone and committed suicide after killing his two victims. However despite this confidence, he would offer no information about the motive of the shooter. “We don’t know a motive,” he stated to reporters.
Officials also expressed gratitude that there were no more victims in this case. There were thousands of patrons in the mall at the time of the shooting, and given the amount of ammunition and makeshift explosives discovered with the perpetrator, the potential for many more casualties existed. Local officials attributed this in part to their emergency response plans, as well as the perpetrator choosing to take his life rather than continue shooting.
Situations like the shooting in Columbia are always followed by the search for answers and while some of those answers were obtained today, the question of why remains unanswered. The motive in the Maryland mall shooting remains a mystery.
By Christopher V. Spencer